Student-attorneys in The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic were in Baltimore’s Eastside District Court Tuesday, Oct. 13 for the opening of a new docket for veterans who have run into trouble with the law. The first of its kind in Baltimore, the docket is overseen by Judge Halee F. Weinstein, an Army veteran, and will focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
In an Oct. 9 Daily Record story, Weinstein said, “We’re going to provide what I would describe as ‘wraparound services’ – substance abuse counseling, mental health treatment if that’s necessary, job counseling and job training.”
Hugh McClean, the director of UB’s Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic, said student-attorneys have been involved in the planning and creation of the docket over the last year and will continue their work. Among other things, students help staff members from the Homeless Persons Representation Project conduct intake interviews for veterans, a process that involves obtaining information about the veterans’ civil legal needs and then helping them find representation. In some instances the student-attorneys represent the veterans themselves.
UB law students are also helping to recruit and train volunteers for the docket’s mentor program. Mentors, who are veterans themselves, help vets who’ve run into trouble with the law. Said McClean in the Daily Record story: “The mentor acts as a support person to keep the defendant on-task and motivated and really provides that liaison role to all of the different people in the court that the defendant might be intimidated to talk to. The mentor and the defendant have that veteran-to-veteran connection, and knowing the mentor is a veteran and expects something from him makes the defendant step up and gives him extra motivation to do his treatment and complete his program.”
In an opening ceremony, Chief Judge John P. Morrissey and Judge Weinstein thanked the UB student-attorneys for their efforts, McClean said.
The Baltimore Sun also covered the opening of the docket. Read the story here.